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Top 10 drugs in 2018

News Release

As part of the development and implementation of its drug management strategies, iA Financial Group (Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc.) will track certain key indicators. One of these indicators is the analysis of the top ten drugs that represent the highest amounts reimbursed for all group insurance contracts in a year. 

In 2018, these ten drugs represented 22% of the amounts reimbursed but only 8% of the total number of claims processed by iA Financial Group.


Our top ten drugs can be divided into two categories:

  • Specialty drugs: expensive, often biologic drugs, for relatively infrequent conditions
  • Traditional drugs: affordable, generic drugs often available for common conditions

The next table shows the top ten drugs by amount reimbursed in 2018, in descending order, and their respective rank in 2017.

B Biologic drugs

Specialty drugs
More expensive than traditional drugs, several specialty drugs rank at the top of the list.  

In this category, REMICADE (infliximab) is in top spot again this year. Approved to treat inflammatory disorders, the availability of less expensive biosimilars puts pressure to lower the cost of this drug. It will be interesting to see if this price drop in the average cost of infliximab will be enough to have a major impact on the cost of drug plans. 

The continued popularity of HUMIRA can be explained in part by the fact that it is indicated for nine different inflammatory conditions. STELARA, which is indicated for three inflammatory conditions, remains in 4th place. 

GILENYA makes its way onto the list year, moving from 13th to 9th place. This immunomodulatory agent is used for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. 

Traditional drugs
The traditional drug in 3rd place is CONCERTA and in 5th place, VYVANSE, two drugs used to treat attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD and ADD respectively). Their high ranking on the list is explained by their popularity in Quebec. The use of ADD and ADHD drugs in Quebec recently made headlines. Many observers question the high rate at which drugs are prescribed to treat these disorders and the disproportion when compared to other provinces. 

Taking up the rear are blood glucose test strips, and CRESTOR (7th), JANUMET (8th) and CIPRALEX (10th), which treat high cholesterol, diabetes and depression respectively. 

Management strategies
These observations provide avenues for reflection to determine the best drug management guidelines. Based on these elements and other key indicators, iA Financial Group is developing management strategies that it suggests to its clients.

Because these observations relate to all iA Financial Group claims, they are not necessarily adapted to all drug plans. We invite you to contact your advisor or your iA Financial Group Account Executive to discuss the features of your plan and to determine the best and most relevant strategies for you.